Wednesday, July 20, 2011

So Sad

The Pioneer Inn, Oshkosh, Wisconsin
The current heat wave has caused me to be sad. So sad. No, it’s not because of the scorching temperatures or the oppressive dew points. It’s not even the 105° heat index we experienced today. While I personally do not enjoy any of those things, they are not the reason for my present state of unhappiness. But rest assure that the current heat wave has definitely caused me to be sad. So sad.

This hot spell that we are mired in brought about this sense of melancholy a couple of nights ago. As can be expected, the local TV news reports have been jam-packed with stories about how air conditioners, beaches and ice cubes.

All I wanted to see was the forecast. I wanted to know how long this was supposed to last. Where was Brian Gotter when you needed him?

Finally my favorite weatherman was on and magically all of his fancy visuals appeared. At one point Gotter was standing in front of a map of Wisconsin when he mentioned the current temperature in Oshkosh.

That’s when it all started.

Oshkosh! I love Oshkosh! After all, the Pioneer Inn was in Oshkosh! One of the most memorable weeks of my entire life took place at the Pioneer Inn. Those were undoubtedly five of the happiest days of my life.

You are probably wondering why I’m so sad if Oshkosh brings back such pleasant memories. I shall get to that, but first a little background is required.

I had recently been promoted to the newly created position of Human Resource Director at Koos Inc. That’s right; Koos, Inc. never had anyone in that position before 1990. I know, I know, but keep in mind that we are talking about Koos Inc.

Since I was new to the position, the company felt that it would benefit me to attend a seminar concerning the intricacies of Human Resources. That is where Oshkosh and the Pioneer Inn entered into the equation because that is where the seminar took place.

So, on a lovely Sunday afternoon in the summer of 1990, I aimed my Dodge Ramcharger north on Highway 41, not really knowing what to expect. 2½ hours and 120 miles later I arrived at the Pioneer Inn resort located on sparkling Lake Winnebago.

The time between Sunday evening when I arrived and Friday afternoon when I left were chock-full of wonderful memories. I believe that I was smiling the entire time I was there. I know that I am smiling right now.

Then why am I am so sad? 

On that fateful night, when I was reminded of Oshkosh, I immediately did a search on my computer for the Pioneer Inn. I needed another glimpse, a reminder of that glorious week. It would be like looking up an old friend.

Unfortunately, what I found is the reason that I am downhearted. The Pioneer Inn is no longer with us. That enchanting 180-room resort located on Lake Winnebago in Oshkosh, Wisconsin no longer exists. It’s gone.

When I searched “Pioneer Inn Oshkosh”, I got a response from titled, “Why is the Pioneer Inn closed?” What I saw next caused my heart to drop.

There were 29 replies, a few explanations mixed in with many notes of disbelief. This comment probably summed things up the best:

“Unbelievable: I cannot believe this beautiful property is not being used. At the very least they should open up the restaurant. This is a crime and the guy that bought this property should be put in jail.

Long story short. The owners and the DNR got into a big disagreement and a lot of legal red tape regarding public as opposed to private land usage on the proposed site of the hotel/condo.

The resort was open in the summer of 2005, sans hotel. Just the restaurant and banquet facilities. Since then, everything has been closed except for the marina, which, quite frankly, is going straight down the crapper.

As a former employee, I am extremely saddened by the constant push and shove match the owners and DNR cannot seem to get over. Call it what you want to call it, back it up with mounds of paperwork and land agreements, but it is what it is...

A bunch of 4 year olds fighting the old “I will not”, “you will too"” game on the school playground.

Shame on you all.”

 It took Brian Gotter’s weather map to make me aware that this once-magnificent institution is no longer around. This resort that was the hub for what was the most outstanding 5-day period of my life ceases to be.

I am sad. So sad.

That is enough mourning for my old friend, the Pioneer Inn. In an upcoming blog I promise to let you know why my stay there was so unforgettable. After all this gloominess, it’s the least I can do. Besides, it will be a joy reliving those glorious moments.

Until next time…from the booth.


Leplume said...

I know exactly how you feel! For years my family would go to a place called Pat's Landing in Hayward for a week's stay. It was the most beautiful place, right on Chief Lake, with gorgeous cabins, a large beach area, great fishing and wonderful people who ran it. Then the father/owner passed away. His wife and kids took it on for a couple of more years and then she retired and they sold it. The new owners tore down the cabins and built condos and dredged the beach area to put in a pool. They killed the charm of the place entirely and we have never been back. It makes me very sad to remember all those great people and great times and know that it can't ever be that way again! I realize change happens but what the new owners did just killed the place. The last I heard they had only sold two of the condos and they are stuck with trying to market the place to vacationers but there are so many other great cabin places there they can barely make it. Sad.

Paul E. Vagnoni said...

So sad.